CHRlSTlANlTY AND POLlTlCAL ECONOMY.*
On the first day of January, 1827, Thomas Chalmers made this entry in his journal:—"My chief earthly ambition is to finish a treatise on Political Economy as the commencement of a series of future publications on Moral Philosophy and Theology. Consecrate this ambition, and purge it of all sin and selfishness, O God!" And Dr. Chalmers closed his published work on "Political Economy, in connection with the Moral Aspects of Society " by earnestly recommending the lessons of this science to all who enter upon what he was pleased to call "the ecclesiastical profession." In all this, however, he was only acting upon the hint furnished him by Adam Smith, father of the whole race of modern investigators in Social Science, for Adam Smith more than a hundred years ago, taught Political Economy from the chair of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow. Such examples as these made it possible for Archbishop Whately to say that "no Theological Seminary should be without its Professorship of Political Economy," and for Dr. Bethune to call Political Economy "that philosophic science which next to the gospel, whose legitimate offspring it is, will do more than anything else for the elevation and fraternization of our race."
I mention these great names as a partial justification of the unusual theme which I discuss to-night, namely, the Relations between Christianity and Political Economy If any doubts still exist as to the reality of these relations, I am confident that a glance at the nature and province of Political Economy and Christianity respectively, will convince us of the intimate connection between the two. Political Economy is not, as some would have us believe, the science of mere material values or exchanges. No writer has ever yet been able to exclude from his account of it either moral influences or moral products. We cannot build it up unless we combine with the facts of outward nature other truths relating to human nature. No less broad u definition can embrace the matters discussed in the text books, than that propounded by Storch, the Russian economist, when he tells us that Political Economy is the science of the natural laws which determine the prosperity of nations, including not only their wealth but their civilization.
That there is such a science as this, we must maintain in spite of Mr. De Quincey's seeming denial. When he asserted that in Political Economy "nothing can be postulated, nothing demonstrated, for anarchy even as to its earliest principles is predominant," he undoubtedly exaggerated the defective condition of economic knowledge in his day. John Stuart Mill, indeed, had not then published his great work, and the Reformers had not
* A Lecture before the Pennsylvania Ministers' Institute, Chester. Pa., June, 1871.
yet sufficient strength to secure the repeal of the Corn Laws. But to say that Political Economy was not even then a science, is to forget Adam Smith. The analogy of history, of geology, of morals, should have taught De Qnincey better. All these are sciences, although in each of them many a dispute is still unsettled. In each of them there is a body of principles arranged and classified. And it is true in our day, if not in De Quineey's, that there is a general settling down upon certain principles of Political Economy, as not only abstractly true but as practically verified. The great battles of the science have been fought out in England, and fought out for all time.
The day has gone by, moreover, when it could be even plausibly maintained that each country must have its own Political Economy, and that what is true in England is not true in America. Those who hold this opinion assuredly fail to magnify their office as economists, for such views reduce Political Economy from a science to an art. It cannot be thus reduced, because it has its foundations in the immutable laws of man's intellectual and social being. While humanity remains the same, the principles upon which man ai ts in securing his physical and social welfare will not change. These principles may be ignored and denied, but results will justify them. Since the laws of nature and the laws of mind are everywhere the same, there must be one Political Economy, as there is one Astronomy and one Moral Philosophy, for England and for India, for America and for Japan.
The fundamental law of mind with which Political Economy has to deal is the law of self-interest. Finding this principle of action implanted in the human constitution and serving as the great motor in human intercourse, the science seeks to determine the methods and results of its operation,— in other words, the physical and social laws which cooperate with it, and the effect upon the individual and upon society of hindering and counteracting its working on the ono hand, or of allowing it the freest play and development on the other.
With the morals of self-interest, Political Economy, it is true, does not concern itself. And yet no one can for a moment doubt that there is such a thing as the morals of self-interest. Moral Philosophy, as Dugald Stewart assures us, must recognize self-love not as an instinctive but as a rational principle, and must fix its place not simply among the desires but among the duties. For this reason, Political Economy is as intimately allied to Moral Philosophy as it is to purely physical science, and wo can say with Dr. Wayland : "The principles of Political Economy are so closely analogous to those of Moral Philosophy, that almost every question of the one may be argued on grounds belonging to the other."
And here we see how, in the very nature of the innermost principle of each, there is ground for suspecting a connection between Political Economy and Christianity. For, as the fundamental law of the former is self-interest, so that of the latter is uersal benevolence. Love and self-love — are they necessarily antagonistic to each other? Because a man loves his neighbor, mint he cease to love himself? Or, does he secure his own interest best, when he cherishes affection and practices benevolence toward all? These questions at least suggest to us that there may be an important and interesting relation and cooperation between principles of our nature that at first sight seem so diverse in their tendencies. Instead of warring against each other* they may be like the centrifugal and centripetal forces which result in the safe and harmonious movement of the earth in the line of progress marked out for it by God.
But we may go further than this. Any true view of the nature of Christianity leads us to suspect a relation between it and Political Economy far higher and more vital than that of reconciled antagonism. For there is such a thing as Christianity in the concrete, as well as Christianity in the abstract. Christianity is salvation for the body and for society, as well as salvation for the individual and for the soul. More and more it is perceived that Christianity, instead of contravening natural law, is in complete accord with natural law. In the highest and best sense, Christianity is the religion of nature — of nature true and perfect as it exists in the mind of God. As Theology becomes imbued with the realistic spirit of this new and better age, it traces more clearly the analogy between natural and moral law, applies more thoroughly to Christian thought the idea of law which is the inspiration of modern science, represents Christianity more consistently as "the royul law " of which all Mosaic laws were the half-developed and half-comprehended germ, and of which the physical and social laws of God's uerse are but partial types and illustrations. With every stride of the world's thought, it is becoming more plain that religion and morality are essentially one; that faith and works are inseparable; and that a true Christianity involves the highest physical and social, as well as the highest mental and moral, well-being of man.
I know of no better proof of the divine origin of Christianity than this, that her laws are little by little found to be laws of nature. And no consummation can be more important or fruitful in blessing than the determination of the place of the sciences in the conquering train of Christ. It is no small gain to religion and to human welfare, when any single department of knowledge confesses an humble relationship to Christianity and begins to serve its progress. This I believe to be already true of Political Economy. She has been more deeply indebted to Christianity, in the past, than she has sometimes been willing to admit. Just as inventions like that of achromatic lenses, to which men seemed to be led by theoretical study alone, have been found to be anticipated in the wonderful natural adjustments and adaptations of the human eye, so philosophers and statesmen have not seldom been forced to accept broad and liberal theories of man's commercial and industrial relations, and after they have accepted them, have found to their surprise that these theories were essentially Christian theories, a legitimate outgrowth of principles which Christianity had inculcated long before. If Christianity has not furnished the germs of such theories, she has at least been the main agent in stimulating inquiry into the social welfare of mankind— an inquiry almost unknown in ante-Christian times, — and has often furnished the moral power to carry out true theories, when selfishness has planted itself like a battery in the way. And Political Economy has partially repaid the debt, by furnishing concrete illustrations of Christ's laws, and by preparing the way for his triumphs.
The need of determining the relations between these two great departments of human thought, and of adjusting them to each other, appears more clearly when we once consider the grievous results of even a partial and temporary war between them. We all know the harm that comes to thinking minds from the false impression that Social Science teaches the supreme and rightful sway of other laws than those revealed in the gospel,— we all know how vast a multitude of the world's workers scout religion because it asserts a natural inequality of gifts and station, and for this reason put some wild theory of human rights in place of it. For the sake of men's souls then, as well as for the sake of their temporal welfare, we need to show them the folly of putting Christianity and Social Science in antagonism to each other, or of fancying that the truths of the one contradict the truths of the other. Mineralogists tell us that there is a crystal called tourmaline, that has a peculiar power of polarizing or twisting the rays of light that pass through it. Let a second crystal of tourmaline be added to the first in a transverse direction, and though each taken singly is transparent, every ray of light is stopped in the passage through the two, so that to use the words of a noted chemist, "the rays of the meridian sun cannot pass through a pair of crossed tourmalines "— the two crystals shut out the rays as perfectly as the closed slats of your window blinds shut out the sun. Turn the tourmalines in the same direction, and they are transparent to the light,— cross them, and not a ray of light can pass through them. I have sometimes fancied that Political Economy and Christianity were like these tourmalines. Either taken separately will give you the light of truth, God's light from heaven,— but when you have them both together, you must adjust them to each other, or they will refuse to transmit the light at all; set them in antagonism to each other, and the very light that is in them becomes darkness.
We have great reason to believe, then, that the relation between Christianity and the science we are considering is not so much a relation of reconciled antagonism, as it is one of pree'stablished harmony and cooperation. Both are parts of one great system. We shall see this more clearly if we look at certain elements in each which, if not identical with, are at least strikingly analogous to, corresponding elements of the other. First, there is a human element in Political Economy as well as in Christianity,— the supreme rank of manhood is recognized in the one as well as in the other. Political Economy teaches that the chief agent in production, and the chief author of wealth, is human labor. Mere natural gifts do not constitute wealth,—they furnish utilities but not values. Air and sunshine, though very useful, will bring no price, because they are God's free gifts, and gifts to all alike. There are certain anomalous cases of value, which at first sight seem difficult to bring under this principle, but they are only apparent exceptions to the rule. The diamond, which I find by accident upon the pea shore, has as great value as if I had obtained it with infinite toil by searching the river beds of Brazil. The value certainly does not lie in the material itself,— this never costs, but whenever it is given, is always freely given by God, — but the value does just as certainly, though only partially, originate in the labor which went to the picking up and appropriation of the stone. Left there upon the shore, unseen and unappropriated, the diamond would be as worthless as any common pebble.
There is indeed another element in value, soon to be mentioned, besides this of human labor. Yet still there is substantial truth in Hobbcs's maxim, that "plenty dependeth, next to God's favor, on the labor and industry of man." And the truth was never more clearly stated than in the first great text-book of political economy: "Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money, that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all the wealth of the world was originally purchased." Labor gives worth to all things we possess. Labor is the alchemist that turns the barren sand to gold. Labor not only originates, but it from year to year reproduces, the wealth of a country. Capital is being forever consumed, and as it is consumed it must be renewed by labor. The old computations of physiology made out that the particles of matter in our bodies changed once in seven years, so that not an ounce of our weight was the same that it was seven years before. Modern investigations have greatly shortened the period, but it furnishes still an apt illustration of the way in which labor is perpetually renewing the wealth of the land. The whole capital of this country is only seven times as great as its annual production. Sweep away all the wealth of the nation,— a few years labor would produce as much again. From this fact Mr. Mill explains the surprising rapidity with which countries devastated by war recover themselves. The war only consumes, a little earlier, what would have been consumed sooner or later at any rate; a few years of increased exertion make it all up again.
So we see the necessity and dignity of labor. Political Economy is far from being the materialistic science of which it has often been accused. It declares that wealth consists, not in material products, but in the manly energy that has been expended upon them. It assures us that the strength of a nation is not in its treasures of gold and silver, its fertile soil, its capacious harbors, its overflowing granaries, its splendid edifices, its parks for pleasure, but in the honest toil, the intelligent industry, the mental capacity, the moral energy of its sons.
"What constitutes a state?
Not high raised battlement or labored mound,
Thick wall or moated gate;
Not cities proud, with spires and turrets crowned;
Not bays and armed ports,
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;
Not starred and spangled courts,
Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride;
No, men — high-minded men —
Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain."
Sir William Jones was right. Political Economy joins hands with Christianity in making man king of this lower world. When it declares that no earthly thing has value, except it bear man's seal and superscription upon it, it proclaims the self-same truth that Christianity had uttered from the first, — namely, the dignity of manhood, and the essential grandeur of all faithful human work.
Let us appreciate, before we go further, the significance and worth of this united testimony. Let us remember that this truth, so familiar to us and so vital to human welfare, is by no means a uersal or intuitive idea. Men have not always believed it. The greatest masters of ancient thought, Plato and Aristotle, denied it. Aristotle asserted that a mechanical employment was ignoble and destructive to virtue, while Plato excluded husbandmen and artizans from all share in his ideal government. Even Cicero said that all artizans were engaged in a degrading profession, and that there could bo nothing ingenuous in a workshop. But now Social Science accepts the teaching of Christianity that labor is not merely the appointed lot of man, but that it is the chief source of humau wealth ; that the highest end of humanity is not mere production, but rather the development of manhood; that man in other words is the centre and glory of the world; that persons are greater than things; that humanity is worthy of uersal honor. We may use natural agents, air, water, fire, soil; but we may never use man,— treat him as a brute thing, forget the dignity of his being or the nobility of his labor. The Scripture only anticipates the voice of Science, when it declares:—
"Thou hast made him a little lower than the angcls,
And bust crowned him with glory and honor.
Thou mildest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands;
Thou hast put all thimfs under his feet."
Secondly, there is a social element in Political Economy, as well as iu Christianity. While both recognize the importance of human labor and the dignity of the humau person, they also recognize the mutual needs and dependence of men. Every man has a multitude of desires, but he has the power to satisfy very few of these desires by his own labor. How many of the articles you consume do you actually produce yourself? Exceedingly few. You may make one or two things well, but you cannot make all things well. Humanity would go back to the savage state, if it were not for division of labor, and exchange of products one for another. Thus we come at once to the provision in the very constitution of mau for his social existence, and civilization might be defined as an organized recognition of this mutual dependence. From this dependence arises one of the most important ideas of Political Economy — an idea first clearly announced by Bastiat, the French Economist — namely, the idea of service. This supplements the idea of labor which we have just been considering, and, together with that, makes up the full and correct notion of value. Value has its source not in labor alone, but in labor so applied and directed that it constitutes a service to somebody else. Service in this way becomes the real measure of value. Things are valuable, according as they are capable of ministering to other's good.
See then the network, in one sense simple, yet in another infinitely intricate and ingenious, which binds me, whether I will or no, to my neighbor, and makes it necessary that I should maintain relations with him, and in some way serve him. My isolated and selfish notions of value are of very little importance; it takes two to make a bargain; I must consult my neighbor's opinion as well as my own. I may own a gold mine in the middle of Africa, or a whole square league of ground on Hudson's Bay, and be none the richer for it. I may labor all my days, but so long as all my efforts are spent upon myself, I have accomplished nothing toward the production of value. Political Economy rates me only as an unproductive consumer of God's bounty, until I leave my selfishness and isolation, and begin by the work of my brain or of my hands to serve my fellow-men.
We have seen that labor is not dishonorable, — let us learn the equally important lesson that service is no more so. Whether we call it by that name or not, every man who prospers in any honest trade or profession does so by virtue of the service he renders others. To wash clothes or to black boots for a livelihood, provided it be only a willing and hearty service, is a calling as respectable as that of the lawyer or the preacher. It is the very dignity of the preacher that he is a "minister," or as the word implies, a servant. And a just Political Economy only echoes the maxims of Christianity :— "He that will be chief among you let him be your minister;" "no man liveth unto himself;" "by love serve one another." And this not simply by furthering their temporal good. It is the greatest of mistakes to suppose that Social Science recognizes no values but those which are material. In Dr. Hanna's biography of his great father-in-law, we have an amusing instance of the rednctio ad absurdum applied to such a theory as this. "Most of Dr. Chalmers' students," runs the biography, "will recall his trinmphant overthrow of Adam Smith's unfortunate distinction between productive and unproductive labor, in which the statesman, the judge, the lawyer, the teacher, the clergyman and the man of science, are all classed among the non-producers, the natl consumere frugex, because they do not create any tangible commodity: while the pastry-cook, the squib-manufacturer, and the vender of quack medicines are exalted to the rank of productive laborers because they create tangible commodities." But Dr. Chalmers might have made his point clearer, if he had more fully apprehended the nature of value as consisting essentially in service. Then he might have seen that Political Economy not only recognizes other commodities than those which are merely material, but that it directly tends to elevate all labor by the supreme value it puts upon the mental and moral qualities which enter into it. The same exertion of nerve and muscle that carries the savage in his foot-race may carry the physician on his errand of mercy. The same voice that sings the ribald song may come to preach the everlasting gospel. Thus by turning labor into service, and by estimating its value according to the higher elements which go to the making of it, Political Economy unites with Christianity in teaching that an isolated, selfish life is worthless, but that tLe service of mankind is the end for which we are to live.
But a third principle comes into view here, and completes the circle. The personal and social elements in both Political Economy and Christianity harmonize with each other. The service of others is perfectly compatible with our own best and highest interest. Every one knows the lamentable consequences of the old Mercantile Theory, which in effect said to individuals and classes and nations: "Get money — honestly if you can,— but get money." It made the great end of life to sell — and to sell for coin,— as if coin were of value except for what it would buy. It went deliberately upon the principle that, in every bargain, one party must always get the better of the other; that for every gain there must be somewhere a corresponding loss. And so there was, under the forms of peace, a real war between individuals, and between classes, and between nations. Each felt that the rest were crowding him, and that he could secure his own interest only by crowding them. Governments interfered to prevent injustice, but, by imposing burdens upon trade and commerce, only added to the injustice they sought to remove. There cannot be found a more striking instance of the practical disorganization and misery that may result from a false theory of human relations. But, although we still see relics of this ancient absurdity in popular theories of class-legislation ami of foreign trade, we congratulate ourselves that the hideous spectre appears very little of late in scientific literature. The whole doctrine of Exchange, the central doctrine of Political Economy. is based upon the idea that every bargain may be, and should be, of mutual advantage to both parties. And since men form a clearer idea of their own interest than any other man or body of men can form for them, the State can better serve them and serve itself by leaving each to follow his own bent, make his own bargains, engage in his own trade, whatever these may be. In other words, the prosperity of the public is identical with the prosperity of individuals, and the prosperity of one class of the community identical with the prosperity of every other.
I cannot raise my own wheat or grind my own flour. It is an advantage to me to pay the flour-dealer for my flour, even though I give a price sufficient to compensate him for his time and skill in selection, besides remunerating the farmer who raised the wheat, the miller who ground it, and the transportation company who brought it to market. All these make their profit, but that does not prevent me from making my profit from the bargain also. And no trade or business in which this principle of mutual advantage does not apply is any more expedient in economics, than it is legitimate in morals. To sell adulterated liquors is an injury to public wealth as well as to public virtue, because no real service is rendered for the money received. To grind the faces of the poor, by extortion and usury, injures trade everywhere by violating the law of reciprocal benefit which lies at the basis of it. A spirit of grasping selfishness is destructive of my own permanent interest. It is for my interest to encourage others to bring me the best of their products, aud to do this with regularity and constancy. They cannot do this without fair remuneration. So that I must not only live, but let live. I must act on the principle that what harms others really does indirectly harm me. Aud what is this, but the Scripture exhortation : "Look not every man upon his own things but also upon the things of others." Political Economy, as well as Christianity, commands us not to drive too sharp bargains ; not to depreciate another's work; not to think that any one class can monopolize the profits of trade, without indirectly harming itself thereby. Since many sorts of men, many classes of producers, must live together, it is for their interest not to live in conflict, but to remember that their interest and others' good are inseparable. Love works no ill to my neighbor,— neither does it work ill to me. In the last analysis, self-love and Christian love teach the same lesson. There is a benevolence inherent in all just Economy. It is the sworn and constant foe to all slavery, to all monopoly, to all prejudices and hatreds, whether of class or race. Social Science as well as Christianity urges me to give labor its freedom, its honor, its reward. When I "render unto all their dues," aud "love my neighbor as myself," I only secure my own interest, for the good of each is bound up in the good of all.
Thus it is that Christianity and Political Economy not only recognize and justify the fundamental principles of each other, but confess that the principles of the one are essentially the same with those of the other, the difference between them resulting mainly from the different points of view from which each regards the facts common to both, and from the different spheres in which religion and science move. On the one hand, Christianity concedes a place and a large place to self-love,—this indeed is made the measure of the love due to our neighbor. On the other hand, Political Economy allows that the truest self-love is imiiossible without benevolent regard for the interests and rights of others. And so, with a little change of phrase, we can repeat the words of a noted writer on Social Science: "The rules of Christian morality are so far coincident with those of utility that, long periods and entire communities being contemplated, their precepts are the same."
The value of such a conclusion as this can hardly be overestimated. Let me illustrate it. Many of you are aware that there once were many, and still are a few, who deny the vegetable nature and origin of coal. The solid and brittle blocks we put upon our fires certaiuly look far more like mineral thau like woody matter. Theoretically convinced as I had always been that these blocks were the relics of ancient forests, I had often longed for some ocular demonstration of the fact. So I made myself familiar with the look of different woods under the microscope, and especially with that of the coniferous woods, of which the coal was said to be composed. A simple pine-shaving presented a beautiful and striking spectacle. There were the multitude of elongated cells stretching often across the whole field of view,— each cell with those characteristic internal markings which to a practiced eye reveal the nature of the wood, as plainly as the leaf and bark and contour of the stately pine reveal the nature of the tree to the lumberman in the forest. Upon the side of each cell, though so minute as to be utterly invisible to the naked eye, were delicate rows of sculptured circles, each with its central dot, as if some fairy had been working at it with tiny compasses. And then across these tubular cells, piled one upon another, were seen at intervals certain darker groups of perpendicular bars, arranged like short horizontal ladders. These were the medullary rays, which serve perhaps with their infinitesimal fibres to bind the cells together. Such was the appearance of the pine-wood shaving. But this was not enough. I obtained also a section of cannel coal. It had been fastened securely to a strip of glass, and then ground down so thin as to be nearly transparent. I put this under the microscope too,— and lo ! there were the same elongated cells, piled one upon another,— there were the evident traces of circular markings upon their sides, — there were the ladder-like groups of medullary rays, — and all as unmistakable as they had been in the little pine-shaving I had seen before. If I had had doubts before, I could doubt no longer; the pines of to-day had their representatives ages upon ages ago. Unlike as they seemed at first, the coal and the wood were essentially one. So there is a minute scrutiny of the facts of Social Science that finds therein the proofs of its essential oneness with Christian truth. The hard, dark, dead mass of economic laws assumes new beauty and significance when we see in them representatives of the same life that inspires the gospel, and find that the truths of the one corroborate and illustrate the truths of the other.
It would be matter of great interest to apply the principles I have enunciated to one after another of the practical relations discussed in social economics, and to verify them in each. Time, however, and the patience of my auditors, will prevent our glancing at more than a single one. Let us look for a few moments at the relation between capital and labor. I draw your attention to this, because the questions at issue here are among the most important and pressing with which the nation and the church have at present to do. There can be no doubt that the thought of the world has been turning of late from political to social questions, and that the greatest secular movement of modern society is that which seeks to rescue the workman from the grasp and control of capital. With the rising intelligence of the laboring classes, there is a rising fear of the ultimate effects upon them of the enormous aggregations of wealth which modern division of labor and costly machinery seem to require in all sorts of production. The danger which seems imminent to many thoughtful minds among them, is the danger that capital may soon secure such a monopoly of production, that all possibility of competition will cease, and that with this will be wrested from the real workers of the world all hope of rising above the rank in which they were born. To be a proletarian class, dependent for their very breath upon the favor of capitalists, and bitterly conscious that their masters may combine to crush out of them all independence and all hope,—this is the picture which they draw to themselves of the not improbable future, provided they do not bestir themselves to secure their rights. And we cannot wonder that they love quite as little the tyranny of gigantic corporations, as they do the tyranny of feudal lords from which they have just escaped. Prance cares more to-day about a reorganization of society with reference to the laborquestion, than she does about monarchy or democracy. The Communists of Paris, abolishing rents as they did, and demanding the use of capital without interest, were strong because they represented the popular sentiment of the metropolis with regard to the so-called rights of labor. And their English sympathizers in Hyde Park, only awhile ago, showed their view of the relation between capital and labor, by the declaration of one of their speakers that the accumulation of property was robbery, and that those who accumulated it were not only thieves but murderers.
Not all laborers, thanks to the intelligence and freedom of America, are in such gross darkness as prevails in some parts of Europe. Yet there are frequent indications of radically wrong thinking upon this subject, even on this side of the Atlantic — wrong thinking which, if not replaced by a better sentiment may, sooner than we suppose, breed public trouble. It is of vast importance to our future peace, that pulpit and press alike should inculcate sound doctrine with regard to the relations of Capital and Labor. Let the voice of Christianity, as well as the voice of Economic Science, be heard, vindicating the principles which we have seen to belong to both. Let them declare the mutual dependence and common interest of employer and employed. On the one hand, let them demand for the laborer a fair share in the products of his toil. The journeyman-mechanic's work is just as important in its place as that of the capitalist who employs him. Capital is dependent upon labor, and should recognize this dependence. But then, on the other hand, let them demand for the capitalist, his fair share also. Labor may exaggerate its claims. It may become as arbitrary and irresponsible a tyrant as capital ever was. It may make out that it is the only agent in production, and demand all the fruits, thus violating the rule of Scripture and of Political Economy alike. It is of as much importance that the workman should understand the nature and rights of capital, as that the capitalist should understand the nature and rights of labor.
Labor and capital,— they go together; both are essential, and equally essential, to production. As well dispute which blade of a pair of scissors has most to do with the cutting, as to dispute whether labor has most to do with production, and deserves the greatest reward, or whether capital does most and deserves most. Future production would be impossible, were it not for the capital that in the meantime supports labor. Capital is nothing but the accumulations of the past, applied as a fund for new production. Hence it is the very store from which the laborer draws his life. Capital does not lie idle,—the moment it lies idle it really ceases to be capital,— but is all consumed in employing and sustaining labor for the harvests of the fnture. Even the capitalist who does no work himself gets interest for the use of his money. How could he get interest for it, if his money were not put to use — were not doing useful work in the hands of somebody — were not providing wages for laborers whom the capitalist never saw? Thus capital is the limit of industry; when capital gives out, industry must starve. Hence, nothing is so mnch to be desired by the laborer as that capital should be abundant, and that its possession should be safe,— for in this case competition among capitalists will be most active, and the wages of labor will reach their highest point.
And does not the capital, which performs all this service, merit quite as much of compensation as the labor which it has employed? How has this capital been accumulated? Only as the result of long abstinence and saving. The owner might have spent it upon himself, his houses, his grounds, his pleasures. But he chooses, instead, to abstain from this personal expenditure, and to devote his gains to the support of labor. And the proceeds of that labor he takes again, and with them supports new labor, so giving employment, and it may be, happiness, to hundreds. Does not this abstinence on his part deserve to be rewarded? Will men continue thus to abstain, unless their abstinence meets with some reward? And then the risks of production, the chances of falling markets, and of losses from unsold goods, the accidents of fire and flood, of thieves and insolvent debtors, of unsuccessful ventures and ultimate failure,— who will encounter these without the prospect of a corresponding reward? And lastly, the skill and foresight, the knowledge of markets, the business-training of years, — is all this to pass for naught? All this goes to making up the value of the product, quite as much as the manual labor of the workman,— and on every principle of justice, as well as of economics, it deserves its fair share of the profit and reward.
This slight consideration of the nature of capital is at least sufficient to show us the folly of the measure for which socialists often clamor so loudly, and which they conceive to be a permanent remedy for the evils of poverty, and for all inequalities of condition among mankind. I mean a compulsory division of capital among all classes of society, and the prevention by law of any but an exceedingly limited accumulation. Aside from the impracticability of the scheme, even at the outset, and the disastrous effects upon society of withdrawing the strongest motives to industry, think for a moment of its effects upon the condition of those who received its original benefits. Remember that capital is a fund preserved from the inroads of personal expenditure. In order to produce anything, it must be constantly consumed in paying wages. Like a river, it remains the same only by flowing on and changing its place every moment. Divide up this fund among the poor, so that it is consumed upon personal expenses,—and it is lost. Suppose I should go to my city-market on market-day, and seeing the bountiful supply of meuts and vegetables there, should fancy that I had discovered a means of banishing hunger from the town, and with this view should buy up the whole supply and order an equal distribution to every family of the population. The quantity seems very great,— but how long will it last? Have I done away with hunger forever? Why, no! by the time next market-day came round, everybody would be just as hungry its before. So the capital of a country is no permanent thing, but a fund that must be continually renewed by labor. To make a forced distribution of it among all classes, would be simply to waste the whole, to reduce all to the same level of i><>verty and starvation, and to deprive them of the very motives and means which they wonld need to raise them above their misery.
A proper conception of the nature of capital enables us also to see how misguided, and blind to their own interest, are those who look upon capital as the natural enemy of labor. How often do workmen regard their labor as an unjust exaction, either in its kind or in its extent, and with that view set themselves deliberately to do just as little as may be for the money they receive. I fear that the idea of mutual advantage in a bargain, the idea of just and hearty service, the idea of wages honestly and fairly earned, is failing out of the minds of the workmen of this generation. And then comes in the notion that somehow, by artificial arrangements, by combination or by legislation, more money can be got for less work, labor of poor quality can be made to get as much pay as labor of good quality, and force or threats can be made to accomplish what reason and the freedom of the market cannot accomplish. It is not combination to which we should object,—the laws of demand and supply do not execute themselves; higher prices will never be got unless demanded ;— but what is objectionable is the hampering of the laborer's freedom ; the subjection of his will to the irresponsible and despotic authority of trades-unions and committees ; the closing up of the avenues of labor to all but members of a guild; in other words, the bringing back of the restrictions upon labor which have so hindered human development in centuries past. Free competition is the life of trade,— and the workman, in his effort to get unjust advantage over the employer, only illustrates the common doctrine of Christianity and of Political Economy that overweening selfishness is fatal to the interest and welfare of him who indulges it.
It is interesting and hopeful to see that the members of the trades-unions in England are beginning to appreciate the great injustice and suicidal character of forced strikes for higher wages, and are taking measures to avoid them. It argues a more intelligent apprehension of the relations between labor and capital, that a recent Conference in London representing no less than 700,000 men, members of the various trades-unions all over the country, solemnly resolved that, for the future, recourse should in no place or circumstances be made to a strike, but that all disputes should be referred, as they arose, to joint delegations of employers and employed, presided over by an umpire. And the partial solution, by means of arbitration, of disputes between the miners of Pennsylvania and the companies that employ them, is a mark of progress which we may trust will not be without its lessons to nil departments of trade throughout our own land. For labor to impose arbitrary exactions upon capital, with the hope that any permanent benefit can be derived therefrom, is only to repeat the fallacy which .32sop ridiculed so long ago, when he told about the hands and feet, the hands and mouth, declaring that they would no longer serve the stomach or furnish it with its supplies. They forgot that the stomach supplied them with strength and sinew, quite as much as they supplied it with food; and they saw their mistake when the hands and feet could move no longer, and the eyes and month had closed in death.
While labor has its duties, however, it is no less certain that capital has its duties also. As it is for the interest of labor to have an eye to the rights of capital, so it is for the interest of capital to have un eye to the rights of labor. I think it cannot be doubted that as labor becomes more intelligent, it will claim and justly claim a somewhat larger share of profits than has been hitherto awarded it. It will justly claim more, because it will be worth more. There is a powerful tendency in this country to independence among the working classes. With greater knowledge of the business they are doing, they have a stronger feeling of ownership in a part of its products. There was a time when employers could hide the amount of their profits,— could, by combination among themselves, keep down the price of labor while they themselves were getting rich. But that day is passing by. The condition of the various trades and manufactures is becoming a public matter, and employers will be obliged, either to give their employees something equivalent to an interest in the business, or to see them set up cooperative establishments for themselves. We may safely say that the working men of this country are less and less inclined to work for mere wages,—they will yet demand with their whole soul that they may have an interest in the things they make. This doubtless will lead to the formation of cooperative establishments in continually greater number and on a continually greater scale. Tlie beginnings that have been made in this direction, with their weakness and frequent failure, ought not to blind us to the real value of the principle nor to the possibility of its successful operation. Paris has now several hundred such manufactories, many of which are leading houses in their resi>ective trades. England can point to Briggs's Colliery and to the Crocsley Carpet Manufactory as notable examples of success in the same line — examples where the accumulated capital has reached hundreds of thousands of pounds. Cooperation has one great element of success — the personal interest of every man in his work,— but it also has one element of weakness — the difficulty of securing competent management by the payment of mere salary. A man after all manages his own business best, and is best trained for his own business by that very management. If employers can combine, with this great advantage of personal supervision, the other advantage of giving each workman some direct interest in the profits of the concern, the double benefit would, in all probability, outweigh any incidental evils or difficulties arising from the union of the two, and do much to solve the problem of capital and labor. And examples of such management are not wanting. Leclaire, a house painter of Paris, as Mr. Mill informs us, employs two hundred workmen. These he pays in the usual manner by fixed wages or salaries. He assigns to himself, besides interest on the capital invested, a fixed allowance for his labor and responsibility as manager. At the end of the year the surplus profits are divided among all, himself included, in the proportion of their salaries. He has not only done for years a large business and acquired a handsome competence, but has found his account in the admirable activity and zeal of his workmen, and in the kindly relations that have subsisted between himself and them. Dupont, a printer of Paris, employing three hundred men, has found the distribution among them of even a tenth part of the profits, though this does not amount in a year to more than a fortnight's extra wages, to be a means of stimulating industry and of improving the products of his office to a degree which far more than repays the outlay.
All that is intended in these remarks, however, is to draw attention to the tendencies of the day and to the illustration which they furnish of the great truth of social and moral science, that all classes of society, even those which commonly look most suspiciously upon each other, have a common interest and are bound to work harmoniously together. In the full recognition of this truth we see the greatest hope of labor. The increase of capital ought not to be matter of apprehension to the laborer since, with every increase, there must be greater competition among capitalists, and a consequent advance in the workman's share of profits in every branch of trade. In this fact of Political Ecouomy, that capital increases faster than population, lies a prophecy of the gradual advance of the laboring classes in comfort and intelligence, since this secures for them the certainty of a constant increase of wages. And, as for the great evils expected to result from the combination of capitalists and the restriction of manufactures to vast establishments, we may set over against these, the principle of association, which enables workmen also to combine, not to secure by threats or violence what does not belong to them by right, but to unite the little fragments of capital which each possesses, until they form a fund large enough for successful competition with the capitalists themselves. The only remedy for the evils of cooperation is cooperation — cooperation either of capitalists with laborers, so that the one share to some fair degree the profits of the other, or cooperation of laborers with one another, so that they virtually become capitalists themselves, working for their own interest most effectually when they work for the body to which they belong.
The realization of this hope, upon any large or general scale, may seem to many to be impracticable, or at least very far away. Many will insist that neither the laws of Political Economy, nor of Christianity, will ever really regulate the action of mankind. Selfishness rules the day, they will say: and, the more grasping and unprincipled it is, the greater will be its success. They will point to merchant princes whose wealth has been coined out of the hearts and brains of ten thousand toilers — toilers whom they have remorselessly trampled under foot. But these are the exceptions, not the rule, and the real lesson they teach is a far different one from this. For one who has reached a competency by iniquity, a hundred have failed,— and the noblest successes have been successes of another sort. A Brassey in England, and a Krupp in Germany, have shown that whole armies of workmen may be managed, not as machines, but as sentient and moral agents, with the highest advantage to the governing power that directs them. In the general, and in the long run, honesty and kindness are the best policy. God has not disjoined the physical from the moral laws of his uerse, nor made it best that men, even so far as worldly prospects, are concerned, should play the villain. The highest prosperity, whether for the individual or society is, in spite of temporary and insignificant exceptions, conditioned upon obedience to God's laws. And it does good to proclaim these laws. It will benefit the working-classes to know that their true interest lies in their own hands — in frugality, intelligence, union with others. Only as they save the proceeds of their labor, and associate themselves with their fellows, will they liit themselves up to comfort and independence. It will benefit the holders of capital to know that they owe a duty to workmen beyond that of mere payment of wages,— namely, the duty of doing what they can to elevate the general character of those whom they employ,— and that this duty is identical with their own ultimate and highest interest. There may be difficulties in the way of applying just principles,—but if capitalists and workmen can be only educated into a right disposition, we may be sure that, where there is a will, there is also a way.
I have confidence that Providence is turning the thoughts of both the scientific and religious world to these questions, in order that the relations between capital and labor may be settled upon a just and enduring basis. There may be temporary strife and chaos of opinions, but out of all this light will come. Nothing is so much to be deprecated as the haste and passion and ignorance on the one hand, or the short-sighted avarice on the other, which would precipitate conflict between these two great factors of production. Nothing is more to be desired than such a thorough inculcation of correct principles, aud such a growth in mutual respect for each other's rights, that war between them will be impossible. Neither the demands of Political Economy, nor of Christianity, will be satisfied until both perceive that their interests are one, begin to seek each other's good, and bring in benevolence as an element in all their relations. Then will be brought about the glorious deliverance and crowning of labor, to which so many noble hearts have looked forward, and for which so many have vainly sighed. Who can refuse to add his prayer for that consummation, when he reads the sorrowful but inspiring song of that poet of labor, Gerald Massey:
"High hopes, that burned like stars sublime,
Go down in the heavens of freedom;
And true hearts perish in the time
We bltterliest need them;
But never sit we down and say,
There's nothing left but sorrow;
We walk the wilderness to-day
The promised land to-morrow.
"Through all the long dark night of years.
The people's cry ascendeth:
And earth is wet with blood and tears,—
But our meek sufferance endeth;
The few shall not forever sway.
The many moil in sorrow:
The powers of hell are strong to-day
But Christ shall rise to-morrow.
"Build up heroic lives, and all
Be like a shcurhen snore,
Heady to flash out at (iod's call,
O chivalry of labor!
Triumph and toil are twins, and aye
Joy suns the cloud of sorrow,
And 't is the martyrdom to-day,
Brin(fS victory to-morrow."
The same principles might be applied, as I have intimated, and in an extended discussion should be applied, to other relations than those between Capital and Labor. There, for example, is the relation between luxurious consumption and the productive industry of a country, between the desire for unlimited accumulation and the educational or aesthetic needs of society, between the great corporations which threaten to control our legislation and the public whose franchise they have obtained, between the security of the national creditor and the financial prosperity of the laud, between the freedom of commerce from all needless restrictions of impost or tax and the merging of all race-hatreds in a uersal human brotherhood. The mere mention of these various relations suggests the vastness of the field over which Political Economy and Christianity hold joint jurisdiction, and the greatness of the service which the one may render to the other. Political Economy has limits beyond which it cannot go. Upon those boundaries it stands and calls for Christianity to be its helper. I find, in Mr. Walker's "Science of Wealth," a quotation from Bastiat, which plainly shows this with regard to the single matter of value. "In order," he says, "that a service should possess value, in the economical sense of the word, it is not at all indispensable that it should be real, conscientious and useful service. It is sufficient that it is accepted and paid for by another service. It depends wholly on the judgment we form in each case; and this is the reason why morals will always be the best auxiliary of Political Economy. Economic Science would be impossible if we admitted as values only values correctly and judiciously appreciated." It is at just this point, indicated by the French economist, that Christianity comes in to rectify our ideas of value. It sets up its spiritual standards over against the materialism which would make earthly wealth the supreme aud only good. Political Economy, left to itself, can never reach the ends which it proposes. Man's highest self-interest is often in conflict with a lower self-interest, which contradicts the first, and the lower obscures the higher,— the speck upon the windowpane is larger to the sight than the house upon the distant mountain-side. What can correct the errors of a narrow self-interest, that looks only to the near and the present, but that faith which is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," and the love whose arms take into their broad embrace the whole uerse of things, and the whole eternity of God?
Thus Political Economy gives us, on a lower plane, the same truths which the gospel had uttered long ago. Thus Political Economy illustrates Christianity, and proves it to have the same Author with the laws of nature. Thus Political Economy prepares the way for Christ, by laying down demands which require the gospel as their natural complement. Economical laws indeed serve much the same purpose as was served by the Mosaic law. That law prevented depraved humanity from sinking so low as it would have sunk without restraint or tutelage ; yet, with all this negative service, the law had no power to lift man up to a higher life. In like manner, the laws of selfinterest, to use the language of Professor Bascom, "catch man when he falls from God's life and love," and prevent him from going so far toward ruin as he otherwise would do, yet they have no power of themselves to restore him to the height from which he has fallen. Though self-interest and true benevolence speak the same language, and seek the same thing, self-interest lays down a law which she is powerless of herself to obey.—The Mosaic law, again, prepared the way for the gospel, by foreshadowing its truths, and pointing away from itself to Christ as the only source of life and power. So Social Science prepares the way for Christianity by dimly foreshadowing its truths and pointing away from itself to another, who alone can complete what it lacks and furnish the fulfillment of its demands. Human nature can fulfill the demands of the highest self-interest only through the access of a higher power — a power of love and life. In this way, the social laws which govern mankind interlock with the moral laws, and require these to complement their own insufficiency and weakness. How could this be, if religion were not from the same source as nature? How could this be, if both were not true and both divine?
Thus Political Economy and Christianity are indissolubly wedded. "What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." But let us not mistake their relative rank and importance. Although Political Economy helps and furthers the cause of true religion, her place is second, not first. And in this we get a glimpse of the relation of science in general to the religion which we profess. Social Science stands only as the representative of all the sciences, when she acknowledges her own inferiority, and serves as a school-master to bring the world to Christ. Uttering a stern and inexorable law, sho knows of none but Christ in whom that law may become a law of liberty and the hardness of self-interest melt into the round soft shape of love. And therefore, not science, but Christianity, is the hope of mankind. No powers of merely natural progress can ever lead humanity to its goal. The race, like the individual, must have a higher guidance than that of its own instincts and intuitions. Even the earthly Paradise of the philosopher and the poet can never be reached by the help of science alone. And the heavenly Paradise,— how infinitely far away, how barred to all access it is, until Christ comes out from the golden doors to take us with his pierced hand and load us thither!
The banyan-tree of the East Indies, is distinguished from other trees in this, that it never ceases growing. Travelers tell us that its branches throw out new roots, at first consisting of slender fibres, hanging in the air and growing downward, but ultimately reaching the earth's surface and striking in, until they themselves become minor trunks which send out new branches in their turn. At length the great parent trunk comes to resemble the central column of a cathedral chapter-house, with scores of subordinate shafts around it, each helping to support the vaulted canopy above, and adding grace and beauty to the leafy temple. In some such way as this, we may picture to ourselves the connection between Christianity and the sciences which tend to ameliorate human conditions. In a true sense they are the offspring of Christianity itself. Sent forth at first as aerial rootlets, they have at last found resting place and new foundation in the solid ground of fact, and from that time serve as independent witnesses to the truth and supporters of it. They are not to be dissevered from it, for their life and the life of the great central trunk is one. Thus, receiving strength as well as giving, all human knowledges stand humbly and reverently around the religion of love, the religion of the cross. Evermore shall Christianity, in its everlasting growth, send down new roots of arts and science and civilization, and these shall repay their debt by guarding and strengthening their common mother, until the giant tree shall have embraced in itself all the results of the broadest and noblest human thought, reducing them to order as subordinate parts of one great system of which it is the centre, sanctifying and pervading them with its own divine life, and uniting all in one organic structure of faith and knowledge, so vast and so free, that all mankind may come beneath its branches and enjoy its shade and blessing. And so, "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, shall be the tree of life, which beareth twelve manner of fruits, and yieldeth her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree shall be for the healing of the nations."